A fork, a cup, a pen and a zip tie are just some of the plastics washed ashore that Coastal Waters Revitalization volunteers recently plucked from a bed of sargassum seaweed in the Upper Keys.
The new organization was founded by Coral Shores High School graduate Nick Macshane, who said his frustration has skyrocketed after witnessing the amount of plastic floating in nearshore waters.
Coastal Waters Revitalization has been organizing community cleanups with the intent of removing as many micro-plastics as possible from the water.
“This is basic environmental conservation. We are locals just trying to cleanup our home. We are born and raised in the Keys and we are trying to make a difference,” Macshane said. “We’ve organized a few events and have been doing small area cleanups amongst ourselves. That’s something we all should be doing.”
Earlier this year, Coastal Waters Revitalization and community partners organized a cleanup with about 30 volunteers that removed 413 pounds of trash.
The group also recently held cleanups on April 3 at Taylor Creek Village and April 4 at Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park; both events were in partnership with Monroe County Solid Waste, Upper Keys Sanitary Services and Overseas Trucking and Bobcat.
Key Largo resident Kim Hamilton signed up to pick up debris, which she said is profuse.
“Our oceans and shorelines need to be cleaned up. They’re a mess,” she said. “I wish everyone cleaned up after themselves, but they don’t. I’ve done several cleanups in the past with MarineLab, so I’m excited to do this. It’s amazing how much trash you see when you go out on the boat. There’s a need for this. It’s a good thing to do.”
Macshane said his wish is for people to consume less single-use plastics and plastic packaging. Large-scale cleanups coordinated with like-minded organizations are on Coastal Waters Revitalization’s horizons.
“We are planning on an Earth Day event, which falls on Thursday [April 22] and Boy Scout Troop 912 contacted me to do another Harry Harris cleanup,” he said.
Volunteers are asked to bring gloves, buckets and whatever instrument necessary to scoop up trash. Drinking water, sunblock and bug spray are recommended.
For information about Coastal Waters Revitalization and its mission to educate the public on the importance of protecting the Keys fragile aquatic ecosystems from pollution, visit http://www.coastalwatersrevitalization.com or find them on Facebook or Instagram.